I need to dream bigger

Last night I had a dream that a more prestigious university in a much bigger and more economically vibrant city called to offer me a job. No search, no campus visit — just an automatic offer of a job. And when I mentioned Bullock, they cheerfully said they’d get in touch with the relevant department and they’d be calling to make *him* an offer. OK, so we’re *definitely* in fantasy dream land, right?

Yeah, except for one thing: the salary the dream school was offering me was a mere $3,000 more a year than I make now, but in a much more expensive city.  And I was still *really* excited about the offer and ready to say “hell yes!” as soon as the offer for Bullock came through. And I was particularly dazzled by the salary! What the what?

Bullock thinks my unconscious was trying to tell me that we have it pretty good here in Rust Belt — that we have “big city” salaries in a small city. (I don’t think he was saying that was necessarily, actually true, but that my unconscious was making that the guiding metaphor.)

You know what I think? I think my unconscious hasn’t looked at my pay stubs in a really long time!

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PS — Also, in the dream, we lived in the country and had *three* dogs, including a red colored setter or retriever of some sort and a Bernese Mountain Dog, along with Pippi. We took long walks through woods and fields with them all off-leash and Pippi would sometimes pick fights with the setter/retriever and the sweet, gentle Berner would break it up. And Bullock was wearing Wellies and a barn coat (?!). And I kept thinking, “Where are we going to put all these dogs in the big city?” but I was still excited about the job. Geez, do I have conflicting desires or what? That country fantasy sounds really nice, but so does the big city!

>Helping Neko Case help Best Friends help companion animals

>Neko Case has a new album coming out, and she’s making a song from it available for free download. And for every blog that posts the download, she and her label, ANTI-, will donate $5 to Best Friends Animal Society. And since I like *both* Neko Case and Best Friends, I’m happy to help out.

Click here to download “People Got a Lotta Nerve.” To find out how you can post it to your blog and help out, too, go here (where you can also preview the song first, if you want, before you download). (And if you can figure out how to get the code for the imeem player to work, let me know.)

About Best Friends (from the ANTI- page on how to blog it): Founded in 1984, Best Friends advances nationwide animal welfare initiatives by working with shelter and rescue groups around the country. On any given day Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, the nation’s largest facility for abused, abandoned and special needs companion animals located in southwestern Utah, is home to approximately 2,000 dogs, cats, horses, rabbits, birds, and other animals. The society also publishes Best Friends magazine, the nation’s largest general interest, pet-related magazine with approximately 300,000 subscribers.

I personally learned about Best Friends from the Pastry Pirate, who has visited them in Utah and was very impressed with the work they do.

>The name game – an impasse

>Although I’m pretty crappy at coming up with pseudonyms on this blog, I generally like coming up with names and do so as a mental game every now and then. I know I’m not the only one out there, since I have a number friends with long lists of names of imagined broods of children. And some friends and I have an annoying habit of stopping each other in mid-sentence to say, “That would make a great band name!” (Silliest one ever: The Damned Coconuts. Yes, I once uttered that phrase in conversation. Long story.)

Now Bullock is pretty indulgent in this practice of mine. I can say to him, out loud, “Can we name our imaginary first born son Miles?” and he’ll say, “Sure.” He’ll even ask why and how I came up with the name. And he’s even accepted the fact that our imaginary daughter is named Ada, an even more old-fashioned name than Miles.

Perhaps Bullock’s easy-going attitude about this is because these kids are imaginary and likely to stay that way. I can name them any damn thing I want to.

But he’s put his foot down on my choice of name for the dog we will eventually get. And it’s a really cool name!!!

I want to name a dog Havoc. It’s all because while I was at K’zoo I was quoting Julius Caesar for some reason — “Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war!”* — and then I interrupted myself for once and cried, “Ooh! Havoc would make an excellent name for a dog!”

But nooooooo, not so, thinks Bullock. He thinks it sounds like a goth metal band. OK, so it would make a good band name, too. But don’t you think it would be a cool dog name? His/her full name could be Havoc, the Dog of War, and the puns on “wreaking havoc” and “Havoc reeks” would be nearly endless. What’s not to like??

What do you think, oh wisdom of the internets?

*Except, after too much cheap wine at K’zoo, I think I kept misquoting it as “…and let loose the dogs of war” or worse, “…release the dogs of war” (shades of Mr. Burns’ “Release the hounds!” I think).

>A wooly week

>Please god, no more animal-related traumas and stress this week.

Beginning this past Friday (OK, so it hasn’t been quite a week yet), the Virago-Bullock household has been struck with one hairy trauma after another, the first and the worst involving dear Wiley. As a result I’ve now been to the emergency vet four times and really never want to go back there again (no offense to the wonderful people there).

On early Friday morning, while I was in the bathroom, I heard Wiley follow me, excited to be let out for his morning pee, and then all of a sudden I heard what sounded like him falling, and when I came out, I found the poor thing collapsed on the floor in his own pee, unable to rise steadily. I thought it was a bad case of an arthritis flare-up and gave Wiley a peanut-butter coated aspirin. But as the morning progressed, and as Bullock and I tried to coax him to his feet to work the kinks out, Wiley didn’t seem to get any more confident or better. At best, he stumbled, legs spread wide, to get from room to room or across the large bedroom. He wouldn’t even attempt the stairs, which meant we had an 85-pound dog trapped on the second floor of our home, who was having multiple bathroom accidents from fear and an inability to control himself any longer, but who couldn’t make it down the stairs on his own, and also wouldn’t consent to being lifted. For some reason Bullock and I persisted in thinking it was arthritis, so we took turns staying with Wiley while the other saw to work-related obligations. But by the afternoon, I realized It was something else when I noticed Wiley’s eyebrow twitching rapidly and his eyes darting back and forth from something more involuntary than fear. We had to get him downstairs and to the emergency vet.

By that time Wiley was freaked out enough — and perhaps desperate enough to go out and pee and poop where he knew he was supposed to — that he let Bullock carry him down the stairs, while I held Wiley’s head steady and kept him calm. As soon as we got him downstairs, he stumbled wildly towards the backdoor, and once out, he peed and pooped immediately, but also walked in circles and arcs. Clearly this was no arthritis. But the good news was Wiley’s brain function was fine, because as soon as I said, “Wiley, wanna go on a car trip?” he staggered over to the car and jumped right in, tail wagging. Later, when things were calmer, Bullock and I laughed at this.

To make a long story short, it turned out Wiley had an ear infection that had caused a sudden onset of vertigo. Hence the inability to walk and the staggering in circles. He’s been on antibiotics since Friday night, and now he’s much better. He still lists to one side a little bit, and when he shakes his head or looks up, he loses his balance a bit, but he’s eating, playing, going for walkies, and barking at other dogs, so things are pretty much back to normal. It took a day to convince him he could walk normally again, however, and at first he’d only do it on the leash. I don’t know if he’ll ever again come up here on the second floor, though.

The second trauma in this wooly almost-week was far less dire, but still not exactly what we needed. Wiley was still in the vet hospital (they kept him for 24 hours) and Bullock and I were eating breakfast, when all of sudden Bullock exclaimed, “Oh god, a mouse!” I turned around and there in our kitchen, perched on the edge of a drawer like he didn’t have a care in the world, was a fat — and rather cute — brown mouse with a white belly. As cute as it was, however, it was in our utensil drawer! Ew! So traps were purchased, drawers cleaned out, items washed and disinfected, and the very next day there was a dead mouse in the same drawer where we’d first seen it. We got the old-fashioned snap traps and it seems to have done its duty breaking the little creature’s neck and, we hope, ending its life quickly and humanely. I felt bad though, because it was pretty cute for a home invader.

But I felt much, much worse tonight on my last trip to the emergency vet. The first three were for Wiley — Friday and Saturday nights, then a follow-up visit on Monday — but tonight’s trip was for another poor creature. Wiley and I were out in the back yard when suddenly Wiley started off on a run towards the front (a run! see — he *is* getting better!). I called for him to Stop! and Stay! because he’s not supposed to leave the backyard and I had no idea what trouble he was headed for. He’s a very good dog and did as he was told and that’s when I saw the most heart-wrenching sight I’d ever seen of an animal in distress. Moving across our driveway was a buff-colored cat dragging himself by his front paws. I took Wiley inside, got a spare towel we use for Wiley-related things, and went after the cat. When I approached him, he stopped and looked pathetically and weakly up at me and then put his head down on the ground. Picking him up and wrapping him in the towel was no trouble. He didn’t cry, hiss, or fuss, and when I had him wrapped up and cradled in my arms, he seemed, in a word, grateful. I’ve never met a sweeter, more compliant cat.

I pretty much knew the outcome of this story the minute I saw the creature up close, and the vet confirmed it. The poor little thing, a grown male cat weighing only 6.4 pounds, had a broken pelvis, massive dehydration, the signs of long-term neglect, and possibly also one of the three fatal but common feline diseases. He was already near death; I just saved him from a slower one in tonight’s snow and cold and gave him a little human contact, compassion, and affection in the end. Poor thing.

When we took Wiley to the vet on Friday night I was terrified that it was something life-threatening and that I’d have to make a decision for him and his mama. But Bullock, Wiley, and I were lucky that night. Instead, tonight, I had to make a decision for a poor stray who might have once belonged to someone, although he wasn’t one of the neighborhood cats, all of whom I know well. Or maybe he was always a stray and just happened to be unafraid of humans. I just hope someone isn’t out there looking for their lost pet.